The tantrum threes! Ugh. As I have mentioned before, our 3 year old son has had a bad behavior escalation in the past few weeks. We figured it was from seeing very little of my husband, due to work demands, but the other day I came across another theory.
I was reading the news, and there was an article about artificial food coloring in food, and it's effects on children. I remember years ago hearing that artificial food coloring could be bad for you, but I could not remember the specifics. Apparently, they have found links between the colors and children's behavior. Red 40 seemed to be the biggest culprit. Sometimes the effects mimicked ADD. Some families were quoted in the article, and one mother said her daughter could come off her ADD meds after she cut out the red 40 in her diet. It was the food coloring all along, in her case! Some other colors were mentioned, but Red 40 seemed to be the most problematic, and most the color children were most commonly sensitive to.
After reading this article, I decided to try a little experiment here in our house. I bagged up all the food with Red 40 in it, and any other foods with more than 2 artificial colors in them. The 2 days that followed the color removal were peaceful, and less problematic for our son. It could be a coincidence, but I'm not sure yet since my husband gave him a red cookie yesterday evening. So now I have to start over, and monitor his behavior over a longer period of time. What I do know is he was wild today. He was not a good listener, had to go to time outs, was purposely doing what we asked him not to, and was physically aggressive. Was this from the Red? What it was, for sure, was enough to convince me to continue the experiment. My son is very sensitive to sugar. He really cannot handle much more than a pinch of added sugar without becoming a wild monkey. Forget chocolate milk. That is a nightmare. Some kids are just more sensitive than others with certain things in their diet. Perhaps he is also extra sensitive to the red dye. We shall see.
I also know that the week he was almost totally out of control, he was eating Fruity Pebbles every morning for breakfast. They have all sorts of artificial colors in them to get that fun look that attracts children. So he was LOADED. After the cereal was gone, he was more calm. It's hard to ignore that.
I don't know anyone personally who has run into this issue with any of their children. I've known people with sugar issues, or gluten issues. If I can see a clear difference, and it improves his life, I'll have to do some more research and cut it out of his diet. I never dreamed that food coloring could ever be an issue. If it's not one thing, it's another!